Emptying the Notebook: Putting a Dent into the House dependency - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: Putting a Dent into the House dependency

Lobo freshman point guard Donovan Dent during a postgame interview after UNM beat SMU on Tuesday night in Dallas. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

DALLAS — Here are a few extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Tuesday night’s 84-63 UNM Lobo blowout win over SMU at Moody Coliseum:

The backcourt behind the backcourt…

Sure, Richard Pitino said over the summer that this season wasn’t going to be only about the “House and Mash show,” referring to his star returning guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr.

For the most part, what he meant by that was that the addition of transfer forwards Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick were going to help round things out into a more complete, balanced team.

But let’s be real. There was never any real plan to not utilize the high-level output those two guards who are the second highest returning scoring duo in the country this year:

1. 38.0 ppg — Hunter Maldonado/Graham Ike, Wyoming
2. 35.1 ppg — Mashburn/House

And through three games, it’s clear that House and Mashburn might actually be better than a season ago (yes, the sample size is still very small).

But here’s the real good news for the Lobos. Quietly, in the shadow of both the sequel of last year’s “House and Mash show” and in the shadow of attention given to the new frontcourt 1-2 punch of Udeze and Allick, the Lobos have actually shown they may have one of the better backcourts in the league on their bench in K.J. Jenkins and Donovan Dent.

I’m not suggesting the two play extended minutes as the point guard/shooting guard duo on the court at the same time like House and Mashburn do, but as the top backups at those two positions, they’re doing some damage this season and when their minutes are actually filling in for the two starters, there isn’t a lot of drop off in the Lobos’ overall production.

First, let’s quickly cover the bases on what Jenkins, the more known commodity, has been doing, which is a little bit of everything:

K.J. Jenkins averages:

• 16.2 minutes
• 7.3 points
• 2.7 rebounds
• 3.5 assists
• 2.0 steals

Maybe most impressive is this: UNM has played 120 minutes this season. In the 48:43 Jenkins has been on the floor, the team is +36 (they’ve outscored opponents by 36 points while he’s on the court).

And Tuesday, he was doing things like this steal leading to an assist…

and making passes like this in the halfcourt…

But what about Dent, the highly-touted freshman?

The former Mr. California (top high school player in the state of California last season) has hardly needed much of an adjustment period at the college level.

Dent on Tuesday had the type of stat line — 1 point, 1 shot attempt, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 20:12 court time — that made one of his teammates just chuckle.

“Donovan had one of the craziest little stat lines — what’d he do?” asked Allick during a postgame interview before looking over the game stats. “One point, two rebounds, seven assists. … It just speaks to who he is. He’s a very selfless guy.”

Maybe the best stat to illustrate Dent’s impact was this: House picked up his third foul with 17:49 left in the game and UNM leading by 16 points.

Instead of SMU being able to cut into that lead with House sitting on the bench for the next 6:32, Dent got some run at the point and UNM held off SMU’s attempt at a rally, actually pushing the lead to 17 by the time House returned.

“I think that’s what they recruited me for heavy was when Jaelen has those moments where he has to be on the bench, that’s where last year they didn’t really have a point guard coming off the bench,” Dent said. “This year, when I fill that role, I just kind of keep the same tempo as him and just keep increasing the leads.”

Dent has defended well this season and certainly showed he’s got plenty of offensive skills.

“He needs to find a way to get House’s aggressiveness to score,” Pitino said, “But (he’s) just an elite level passer.”

It’s about time…

Jaelen House played just 25 minutes, 6 seconds on Tuesday.

Before that, UNM had won only three times vs. Division I opponents when House played fewer than 32 minutes. And Tuesday marked the first time the Lobos won a road game when House played fewer than 36 minutes.

House still tied for a game-high 18 points to go along with five assists and three steals.

The gamer…

Here is the game story that I filed for the Albuquerque Journal from Moody Coliseum in Dallas on Tuesday night…

He said it: SMU times two

“It’s kind of crazy. Our coach — (assistant) coach (Josten) Crow had this scout — and everything that we went over, everything that we memorized was ran tonight. We were just steps behind tonight.” — Zach Nutall, SMU guard when asked if UNM did anything that surprised the Mustangs on Tuesday night.


“Credit to New Mexico. They did a great job. In all honesty, I’m really disappointed for (assistant coach) Josten Crow, who did a great job with the scouting report and laid out exactly what we would see in the game tonight and we basically saw what he had prepared for us.” — SMU coach Rob Lanier in his opening statement after Tuesday’s game.

The takeaway, essentially, was that SMU knew what was coming and couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Now, to be clear, the Lobos made some adjustments from last week’s pair of games in the Pit, but for the most part, there aren’t any huge secrets.

Richard Pitino has been clear: UNM has two high-scoring guards that will push tempo and try to take their defenders off the dribble (no secrets there) and now they have two big men who the team wants to feed the ball to in the post whenever they can (Pitino has only said that’s the plan about 500 times since last March).

The flag travels…

A good showing for UNM fans at Tuesday’s game, both behind the team bench and throughout the arena.

And, of course, you can’t have a bunch of New Mexicans at a sporting event without one of these…

A number to know: 2.04

The Lobos had 21 assists and just 10 turnovers vs. SMU on Tuesday and now have a Mountain West-best 2.04 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team.

Last season, they ranked sixth in the league at 1.00.

Lobo royalty…

The only time UNM played SMU in Dallas before Tuesday night, Charles Smith (22 points) and Clayton Shields (21 points) led the Lobos to a 75-72 win. That was in the 1996-97 season.

Tuesday night, Smith and Shields were sitting courtside watching the game, and took some time pregame to pose for a picture with Lobo radio commentator Hunter Greene, making for three of the program’s top 8 scorers all-time in one picture.

I’m sensing a Southern trend…

The Lobos schedule so far this season:

• vs. Southern Utah (win)
• vs. South Alabama (win)
• at Southern Methodist (win)

The team’s next opponent doesn’t have “South” in its name, but as Lobo football coach Danny Gonzales often refers to them, New Mexico State is “that team down south.”

It should be noted that next week includes Lobo games against North Dakota State and Northern Colorado. And there’s a Dec. 6 game against Western New Mexico. So there isn’t a directional bias in the scheduling.

Fast starts…

The men’s college basketball game is the only one still married to this idea that it needs to play two halves rather than four quarters, as every other level of the sport plays — pro, international, high school, all levels of women’s basketball, rec league, etc.

Nevertheless, breaking down UNM’s scoring in the traditional four-quarters format (using the score at the 10, 20, 30 and 40 minute marks) is something I like to keep track of.

Tuesday, here was the games’ “score by quarter” numbers:

1Q: UNM 19, SMU 13 (+6)
2Q: UNM 26, SMU 19 (+7)
3Q: UNM 22, SMU 14 (+8)
4Q: UNM 17, SMU 17 (–)

On the season, here is the scoring differential for the Lobos, by “quarter” through three games:

1Q: UNM +20
2Q: UNM -0-
3Q: UNM +7
4Q: UNM +8

Meanwhile, down in Las Cruces…

It wasn’t all good for Lobo hoops on the road Tuesday night.

The UNM women lost in overtime to rival New Mexico State and first-year Aggies head coach Jody Adams.

Here is colleague Ken Sickenger’s article on the Aggies’ rare (of late) win against the Lobo women:


Through Tuesday’s games, the Lobos (back to the men’s team here) had three players among the top 10 scorers in the Mountain West:

1. Jaelen House, 20.7 ppg
2. Jamal Mashburn Jr., 18.7 ppg
9. Morris Udeze, 16.7 ppg

Video: Postgame with Pitino…

Here is video of the postgame interview I had with UNM Lobo basketball coach Richard Pitino and players Josiah Allick and Donovan Dent after Tuesday’s game, as posted to the Albuquerque Journal’s YouTube page:

Up next…

In case you didn’t know, the Lobos’ next game is Saturday in the Pit at 5 p.m. against instate rival New Mexico State.

Anyone remember the last time the Aggies and Lobos played in the Pit?


The announced attendance for Tuesday night’s game in Moody Coliseum: 3,662.

Another number to know: 21

Tuesday’s 21-point win for the Lobos marked the largest margin of victory for a UNM road win since a 21-point win over Colorado State (108-87) in 2018.


Here are the plus/minus numbers for the Lobos in Tuesday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+26 Morris Udeze (29:27)
+26 Jaelen House (25:06)
+19 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (29:52)
+13 Josiah Allick (28:31)
+10 Javonte Johnson (20:46)
+10 K.J. Jenkins (20:46)
+6 Jay Allen-Tovar (15:29)
+1 Donovan Dent (20:12)
0 Birima Seck (00:03)
-3 Sebastian Forsling (6:30)
-3 Braden Appelhans (4:59)

Line ’em up…

The Lobos had 18 unique lineup combinations in Tuesday’s game and played 11 players. Southern Methodist had 25 lineup combinations and played 13 players.

Here’s a look at a few notable UNM lineups, starting with the starters:

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Javonte Johnson/Josiah Allick/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +6 (24-18)
• Time on court: 11:59
• NOTE: This one is pretty simple. The starters set the tone on Tuesday and the backups carried it on admirably.

• Who: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./K.J. Jenkins/Jay Allen-Tovar/Morris Udeze
• Point differential: +8 (12-4)
• Time on court: 3:23
NOTE: As great as Josiah Allick was on Tuesday, it had to be good for Lobo fans, and the coaching staff, to see how well the team kept going when Jay Allen-Tovar got some minutes at the “4” with the rest of the starters. This group scored better than 1.5 points per possession.

• Who: Donovan Dent/K.J. Jenkins/Braden Appelhans/Jay Allen-Tovar/Sebastian Forsling
• Point differential: -2 (1-3)
• Time on court: 3:19
• NOTE: Not much to choose from here in a dominating game for the Lobos. But stats are stats, and this lineup was outscored by two in a stretch of a little more than three minutes on the floor together.

Freshman to freshman…

You can’t really see the setup here (these clips are usually like 2 seconds long), but trust me, the assist on this Braden Appelhans 3-pointer (the first of his college career) was from Donovan Dent.

In the era of the transfer portal, who knows how long players will be at a school anymore, but for now, a Lobo freshman point guard hitting a Lobo freshman sharpshooter for a 3-pointer in a big road win was a welcome sight for many, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, in Mobile, Alabama…

It’s never a good idea to look at scores of past or future opponents and try to extrapolate something from them.


It means NOTHING!

So, let’s do it anyway and see what past Lobo opponent South Alabama did on Tuesday night against the No. 18 Alabama Crimson Tide, which has the 21st best offense in the country, according to KenPom.com:

FINAL: No. 18 Alabama 65, South Alabama 55

The Jaguars, four days after surrendering 80 points (1.10 points per possession) to the Lobos in the Pit, held the Crimson Tide to 65 points at 0.88 points per possession.

Meanwhile, out by the Bay…

No. 17 San Diego State hit the road and beat a pretty solid Stanford team on Tuesday night on the road, 74-62. It was one of two road wins for the league on Tuesday:

Around the Mountain …

There were five games around the Mountain West on Tuesday night, one coming up on Wednesday and then another busy slate on Thursday and Friday. Here’s this week’s Mountain West men’s hoops scores and schedule:

• Utah State 96, Santa Clara 74
• Colorado State 77, Weber State 52
• Texas A&M Commerce 73, Air Force 69 (OT)

• No. 17 San Diego State 74, Stanford 62
• San Jose State 70, Alabama State 57
• Nevada 98, (NAIA) William Jessup 54
• New Mexico 84, SMU 63
• UNLV 60, No. 21 Dayton 52

• San Francisco at Fresno State, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT

• Colorado State vs. South Carolina (Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.), 3 p.m. MT/5 p.m. ET
• Boise State vs. Charlotte (Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, S.C.), 5 p.m. MT/7 p.m. ET
• Portland at Air Force, 7 p.m. MT
• Hofstra at San Jose State, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT
• Utah State at San Diego, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT

• Boise State vs. TBA (Myrtle Beach Invitational)
• Colorado State vs. TBA (Charleston Classic)
• Wyoming vs. Howard (Paradise Jam, U.S. Virgin Islands), 2:15 p.m. MT/4:15 p.m. ET
• Nevada at UT-Arlington, 6 p.m. MT/7 p.m. CT
• High Point at UNLV, 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT

• San Jose State at Northern Colorado, 2 p.m. MT
• Fresno State at North Texas, 4 p.m. MT/5 p.m. CT
• New Mexico State at New Mexico, 5 p.m. MT

• Colorado State vs. TBA (Charleston Classic)
• Boise State vs. TBA (Myrtle Beach Invitational)
• Wyoming vs. TBA (Paradise Jam)

Poll position…

San Diego State climbed two spots to No. 17 in Monday’s new AP Top 25 poll, the only Mountain West team to receive votes. The Aztecs had a high vote of No. 11 and two of the 63 voters left them off their ballots.

Player’s of the Week…

SDSU’s Darrion Trammell, the senior transfer guard from Seattle University, was named the Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday (for last week’s games) after averaging 19.5 points, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in home wins over Cal State Fullerton and BYU.

Nevada forward Darrion Williams is the freshman of the week after averaging 10.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in wins over Utah Tech and Grand Canyon.

Blast from the past…

Episode 54 of the Talking Grammer podcast this week featured a conversation with former Lobo and former professional basketball player Cameron Bairstow.

Here are some ways you can listen to it:

• iTunes (Ep. 54)
• Spotify (Ep. 54)
• SoundCloud (Ep. 54)

Stats and stats…

Here is a screen shot of the postgame stat sheet from Tuesday’s game (not the usual picture as SMU did not hand out any statistics to the media sitting on press row during or after the game): UNM 84, SMU 63

And for those wanting a digital version of the stats, here you go: UNM 84, SMU 63

Until next time…

My empty arena pics are back!

Until next time, Moody Coliseum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas…

Home » Sports » Emptying the Notebook: Putting a Dent into the House dependency

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